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Black And White (1999, Brooke Shields, Robert Downey Jnr)

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Black And White writer and director James Toback is a filmmaker whose reputation is high but will probably never be invited to helm a major film – his status as a renegade is just too great. But he makes films that are interesting and this, alongside Fingers and Two Girls and a Guy, represent his best work. The circular plot follows Rich (Oliver Power Grant of the Wu Tang Clan) who decides to give up crime for life as a rapper. Suddenly, he’s the darling of rich white folks who want to emulate the black scene, led by dread-locked filmmaker Sam Donager (Brooke Shields) and her husband Terry (Robert Downey Jnr).

Running parallel is the story of basketball player Dean Carter (Allan Houston, a real member of the Knicks team) being persuaded by gambler Mark Clear (Ben Stiller) to throw a game. But Clear is an undercover cop using Dean to get to Rich and when Rich finds out, violence follows…

Largely improvised and using a host of famous names in cameo roles, including Mike Tyson, Toback’s film is both a fascinating look at the white fascination with black culture combined with a murder thriller where cross and double cross across class and racial divides decides people’s fates. Not without its flaws, the film still brims over with originality and vitality that many bigger budget films find hard to match.

production details
USA | 98 minutes | 1999

Director and Writer: James Toback

cast
Robert Downey Jr. as Terry Donager
Scott Caan as Scotty
Stacy Edwards as Sheila King
Allan Houston as Dean Carter
Jared Leto as Casey
Claudia Schiffer as Greta
Brooke Shields as Sam Donager
Joe Pantoliano as Bill King
Kidada Jones as Jesse
Marla Maples as Muffy
Bijou Phillips as Charlie
Oliver ‘Power’ Grant as Rich Bower
Raekwon as Cigar
William Lee Scott as Will King
Michael B. Jordan as Teen #2
Eddie Kaye Thomas as Marty King
Frank Adonis as Frank
Pell James as Pell (uncredited)
Gaby Hoffmann as Raven
Bellamy Young as Bellamy (uncredited)
James Toback as Arnie Tishman
Mike Tyson as Mike Tyson
Elijah Wood as Wren
Kim Matulova as Kim
Brett Ratner as Brett Ratner
Method Man as Method Man
Inspectah Deck as Inspectah Deck
Ghostface Killah as Ghostface Killah
Sticky Fingaz as Sticky Fingaz
George Wayne as George Wayne
Scottie Epstein as Scott
Thaddaeus Birkett as Twin
Chip Banks as Nicky
Hassan Johnson as Iniko
Larry Shaw as Duke
Superb as Pep
Tyrone S. Walker as Tye
Richard Akiva as Richie
Justin Ske as Jus Ske
Richard Voll as Richie V
Steven C. Beer as Attorney
Sabine Lamy as Girl in Bed #1
Michelle Dent as Girl in Bed #2
Frank Pesce as Joey
Richard Rose as Newscaster
Chuck Zito as Chuck
Sheila Ball as Sheila
John Bolger as Peter
Joseph Bongiorno as John
Masta Killa as Masta Killa
Jodi Cohen as Jodi
John Buffalo Mailer as John
Tina Nguyen as Tina
Garry Pastore as Benny Bones
Richard Elms as Driver
Keith Grayson as Krysley
Janine Green as Janine
Cara Hamill as Featured
Katie Hamill as Katie
David Alastair King as King
Kristin Klosterman as Christine
Duane McLaughlin as Teen #1
Lauren Pratt as Sandy
Shari Raghunati as Shari
Katie Sagona as Katie
Melvin James Shaad as Doorman
Tyree Michael Simpson as Club Security
Patrick Watt as Thomas
Jade Yorker as Teen #3
George F. Miller as Bartender at New Club (uncredited)
Steve Nuke as Waiter (uncredited)
James M. Sandín as James (uncredited)
Davy Sardou as Clubber (uncredited)
Fredro Starr as Fredro Starr (uncredited)
Sanny van Heteren as Event Planner (uncredited)
Shawn Regruto as Victor
Robert B. Alexander as Darren
Eric Keith McNeil as Combo
Ben Stiller as Mark Clear

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